Retail Analytics

Retail Location Data

Make the Right Move with Retail Location Data

Make the Right Move with Retail Location Data 1440 428 ASG

In the retail industry, where competition is cutthroat and every move matters, the right location can be the ultimate arbiter of success. Yet, astonishingly, many ambitious retailers fail to recognize the untapped potential and invaluable insights that retail location data offers. 

We get it. It’s easy to get wooed by a vacant retail space in a trendy neighborhood or an open location that has high foot traffic at first glance. But ignoring valuable insights before making a decision can lead to missed opportunities and potential pitfalls.

Empowered with retail store location analysis, retailers can strategically select a site that provides the best opportunities to achieve objectives and maximize profit potential. 

But what kind of information is useful in determining the right location for your retail business so that you can make the best decision for long-term success?

A Data-Driven Approach to Evaluating Retail Locations

In a dynamic marketplace, retailers must stay ahead of the curve before they ever even open. Harnessing the power of data and leveraging it to make informed decisions about where to invest in real estate is critical in today’s competitive retail landscape. 

But what exactly is location data, and how can it help your business? On a macro level, location data refers to information that indicates the geographic position of places, people or objects. While location data can provide details like latitude and longitude coordinates or direction of movement, this information can also provide valuable details like patterns, trends and even historical information that can help businesses make important decisions. 

For example, this type of data is widely used in targeted advertising. By analyzing location data, businesses can understand the behavior and preferences of their target audience in different locations, enabling them to tailor their marketing campaigns accordingly. 

Location data can also be utilized in supply chain management, helping businesses optimize logistics, track shipments and improve overall operational efficiency. By analyzing historical location data, businesses can identify patterns and trends, optimize routes and reduce delivery times, ultimately saving costs and enhancing customer satisfaction.

When evaluating retail spaces, location data is a specialized type of intelligence that can unveil hidden secrets and untapped potential of each possible storefront. The data isn’t only about roads, buildings and traffic patterns. Location data can unveil who lives in an area, their average incomes, the types of homes they live in and more demographic details. 

Thanks to advances in location data, retailers can now explore potential locations by leveraging sophisticated analytics and predictive modeling that analyzes a wide range of factors like competitor proximity, demographic information, and consumer behavior.

Retail Location Data

Key Data Points when Evaluating Locations

A retail store location analysis involves examining several data key points that include:

  • Demographics: Beyond population size and income levels, savvy retailers now delve into the nuanced intricacies of the community. They unravel the aspirations, values, and lifestyles of potential customers, tapping into the emotional connections that drive purchasing decisions.
  • Competition: Competition is no longer just a hurdle to overcome. It’s an opportunity for collaboration and differentiation. Retailers armed with this new mindset embrace the strengths and weaknesses of their counterparts, crafting innovative strategies that set them apart. By harnessing the power of partnerships and symbiotic relationships, they create unique experiences that resonate with customers on a deeper level.
  • Foot traffic: Foot traffic analysis evolves into an art form, a delicate dance between prediction and anticipation. Retailers move beyond static numbers and tap into real-time data, understanding the ebb and flow of customer movements. By embracing the patterns of time and space, they strategically position themselves to intercept the ever-changing currents of consumer traffic.
  • Accessibility: Accessibility encompasses more than physical proximity. Retailers now navigate a complex landscape of convenience and connectivity. They reimagine the concept of accessibility, exploring parking availability, public transportation integration, and the interplay of digital and physical realms. By seamlessly blending the virtual and brick-and-mortar experiences, they become beacons for modern consumers.
  • Cost: Many retailers struggle with achieving a delicate balance between investment and potential returns. It’s no longer a straightforward calculation. Visionary retailers consider the intangible assets and the value they bring to their chosen location. They weigh the cost of leasing or purchasing against the transformative power of their unique offerings, creating a new formula for success.

In this era of retail reinvention, the evaluation of retail locations transcends the mundane checklists of the past. It requires a fresh perspective that relies on a retail store location analysis, embracing collaboration, and tapping into the pulse of the community. 

Retail Location Data

Consumer Migration Trends to Keep an Eye On

Another essential piece of data retailers should consider are the latest consumer migration trends. Consumer migration trends in the context of retail locations refer to the patterns and movements of consumers in terms of their residential locations and preferences for shopping destinations. 

These trends can provide valuable insights into where consumers are moving, how their preferences are changing, and how retailers can adapt their strategies to align with these shifts.

Consumer migration trends can be influenced by a variety of factors, including changes in population demographics, economic conditions, urban development, and lifestyle preferences. 

For example, a neighborhood or city may experience an influx of young professionals, leading to a rise in demand for trendy boutiques and upscale dining options. On the other hand, suburban areas may witness an increase in family-oriented retail establishments as more people move to these areas for a quieter lifestyle.

In our hometown of Columbus, Ohio, community leaders and businesses are leaning into the concept of developing mixed-use spaces in the East Franklinton neighborhood, which is adjacent to downtown, and experiencing a rebirth into a trendy, more progressive area. This area is seeing more young professionals move in just as the business district is developing Gravity – a mixed-use space that caters to entrepreneurs, artists, and other social innovators. 

By analyzing consumer migration trends, which can evolve over time, retailers can identify emerging markets and potential growth opportunities. They can adjust their expansion plans, allocate resources effectively, and tailor their product offerings to meet the needs and preferences of the target consumer base in specific locations.

The Right Location for Long-Term Success

Whether you’re a retailer looking for the right location to jump-start or expand your business, you can significantly benefit from using data to inform the decision-making process. 

Yet knowing how to obtain this data and then use it to make an informed decision can be challenging. Retail location analytics technology platforms can offer a tailored approach to generating real estate data with the goal of empowering clients so they can make confident decisions. 

When choosing analytics technology platforms, look for qualities like:

  • A user-friendly interface that is designed to simplify the analysis and visualization of data
  • Modeling capabilities that leverage historical data and market trends to forecast the potential success of a retail location
  • Integration capabilities that allow seamless data integration from multiple sources, such as demographics, foot traffic, and competitor analysis
  • Advanced geospatial analysis tools that enable businesses to understand the spatial relationships between different retail locations, competitor proximity, and customer density
  • Real-time data updates and monitoring features that provide up-to-date insights into consumer behavior
  • Data security and privacy measures that ensure the protection of sensitive information
  • Customization options that allow businesses to tailor the platform to their specific needs or metrics

By leveraging advanced analytics and artificial intelligence, businesses can make strategic decisions that align with their target market, mitigate risks and capitalize on growth opportunities. 

To learn more about how a retail data platform can help businesses, check out ASGEdge.

The Shifting Landscape of Retail Real Estate

The Shifting Landscape of Retail Real Estate 1440 428 ASG

It’s an exciting time to be part of the retail industry. For years, there have been hand-wringing warnings that brick-and-mortar was dying. 

There are still factors that keep the retail real estate market on edge – concerns about inflation, recession, the supply chain, rising material costs, and geo-political instability mean assessing risk must be part of the decision-making process. However, even with those concerns, the economy has remained stronger than expected, with retail sales growing moderately.

As it turns out, people still really love to shop in person – so much so that brick-and-mortar is seeing a revival. This revival is driven by a change in consumer behavior as well as a change in retail strategy, consumer demand, and the state of retail real estate.

Changes in Consumer Behavior Require Retailers to Adapt

Shoppers are becoming more sophisticated and selective, turning away from traditional department stores. Their expectations also are changing. While this was, in large part, accelerated by the pandemic, shoppers were already beginning to demand more from the shops they frequent. The focus for consumers is on the shopping experience.

When it’s so easy to get what you need delivered at the click of a button, physically going into a store needs to be about more than just acquiring stuff. Perhaps that is partly why shoppers are not patronizing traditional department stores, which have been steadily declining, while at the same time surging to the new, exciting experiences being offered by DTC brands that are opening physical stores. 

Rethinking The Store Experience

The U.S. leads the world in retail real estate market growth, so how do retailers take advantage of that growth and position themselves for ongoing success? How can they ensure they are choosing the right locations and putting themselves in the best position amid fierce competition? How are current trends in commercial retail shaping the retail landscape? 

Many retailers are rethinking their store experiences. They are experimenting with store design and location; they’re meeting consumers where they want to shop. This has resulted in innovations in retail, from pop-ups and temporary shops to adjusting where stores are placed, what product mix they carry, and the size of the store. It’s an exciting time for retail leaders who are open to discovering new ways to connect with consumers and reinvent themselves.

Let’s take a look at a few of the factors impacting the shifting landscape of retail real estate.

Fierce competition in top-tier centers and street locations has altered location strategy for many retailers, driving them elsewhere. This has been amplified by a mass exodus to the suburbs by consumers who can now work remotely and prefer to shop in their own neighborhoods. As consumers seek more community and connection, retailers are responding. In an interview on the Shopify blog, Vinny Martinelli, owner of Helios Sunglasses, a sunglasses and apparel store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, summed it up: “COVID changed everything, especially [the] shopping experience. More people [are] working from home and staying local.” 

A high number of retail vacancies is encouraging retailers, particularly DTCs, which embrace the entrepreneurial spirit of retail, to try new locations and store types. With some legacy brands exiting and a variety of DTCs moving in, the real estate market is red hot right now. Digital-first brands are gobbling up the hottest locations and bringing new retail experiences with them.

Branching out beyond physical retail, some retailers are experimenting with frictionless technology (BOPIS, tighter integration between online and in-store, and sophisticated apps), retail healthcare, and improving the user experience in order to deliver better experiences to consumers. 

Radical reductions to lease lengths have made initial lease negotiations much more critical. However, these changes also allow retailers to experiment without the six- to 10-year renewals that used to be required to secure the space. 

Lease complexities require expert tenant representation to ensure there are appropriate protections in place. Provisions that were introduced during the pandemic are now being baked into leases as a matter of course to ensure retailers have recourse for situations beyond their control.

Embrace Change To Find Success

In his book, Secrets of Retail Real Estate: How Successful Retailers Win, ASG founder Steve Morris explains: 

“Successful retailers are reinventing their customer-facing practices and technologies to create a unified customer experience. Real estate decisions and approvals can no longer be processed on a center by center, deal by deal basis, but must reflect broader market, portfolio, and customer engagement strategies. This is the new real estate world.”

Finding the Right Location in this Environment

To find the right location in this shifting landscape requires access and understanding. “It’s critical to understand how markets develop and how they’re changing,” explains Doug Tilson, who leads ASG’s Tenant Representation. “That can only happen when you have access to up-to-date, comprehensive data.” Using accurate data to drive decision-making and working with a trusted tenant rep partner can help you determine what’s possible in a retail real estate landscape that is constantly evolving. 

Livestream Retail for the Win

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Bloomingdale’s hosted livestream retail events throughout the pandemic, inviting customers to join them on Zoom calls and learn about the latest footwear and fashion trends. Customers were treated to special opportunities to buy merchandise and were incentivized to do so. Post-pandemic, livestream is becoming a more viable option for brands to reach their customers – not to replace the brick-and-mortar experience but to have yet another way to connect. 

At the end of the day, your retail success relies on your ability to connect with your customers. Every channel through which you can connect to your customers is part of your overall retail footprint. Not only is livestream retail a data-rich environment that can help you learn more about your customers, but it is an opportunity to create a unique experience that will keep them connected to your brand. 

SG Deals with Physical Retail Locations – Why Talk Livestream?

ASG does bring location and design expertise to retail. But part of understanding where and how to design and locate stores means understanding all of the paths through which a brand attracts and retains customers, and how virtual experiences impact the in-store experience. So, looking at ecommerce, in-app, and livestream retail is part of having a comprehensive understanding of the entire retail footprint for a brand. As retailers redefine their relationships with their consumers, brick and mortar becomes only one piece of a larger puzzle. 

“Each brand has their interpretation of ‘community’ and what it means to them, which is why we’re seeing new ways to approach community focused experiences. Whether it’s global, digital, or hyper-local, there’s a place for everyone to feel special.” – Chute Gerdeman

What’s the Difference Between Livestream Shopping and QVC?

QVC and other TV shopping channels were precursors to livestream retail. Livestream is much more powerful, in that individual brands and retailers can directly connect with customers on a more personal level – and your customers don’t need to be in front of a TV. They can be watching videos on TikTok or scrolling through Twitter or Facebook. Purchases can be made on the spot, to be delivered or picked up. Walmart recently partnered with TikTok; Facebook and Instagram have both begun rolling out live shopping. 

How to Break into Livestream Retail

Digiday suggests beginning by connecting to influencers and micro-influencers: “To engage with audiences that want livestream shopping and social commerce as part of their consumer journey, brands are building out strategies and partnering with influencers that already have the audiences in order to widen their reach.”

Make sure you can be found by your customers where, how, and when they want to shop. Livestream is just another way to do that. Retail is going to continue changing; to connect with customers at every point on their journeys, traditional brands and retailers will need to remain flexible and willing to meet customers where they are.

Creating Memorable Customer Experiences

Creating Memorable Customer Experiences 1440 428 ASG

Everything about retail has changed, but that’s not a bad thing. The needs and wants of customers have changed dramatically since the onset of the pandemic, and that brings opportunity for retailers. Social media, SMS, chat: all of these communication tools have changed how we interact with customers and how truly connected to them we can be. However, authentic, emotional connections with your brand can only happen when you’re willing to be what you promise your brand is. How do you create a memorable customer experience, and where does ASG and Chute Gerdeman fit into the new retail paradigm?

Connecting with Customer on an Emotional Level

To connect more fully with your customer, you need to know who they are now – because they’re not the same customers you knew before the pandemic. Think about all that your customers have been through – about the life-changing times we’re living in and how your customers have re-evaluated what’s important in their lives. From leaving unfulfilling jobs to recognizing the need for repairing family connections, your customers (like the rest of us) are redefining life on their terms. You have to find a way to be a part of their story going forward, and in order to do that, you need to talk about your brand in ways that connect. 

Quit Trying to be Your Competitor

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” and while I agree that you should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to retail strategy, you do need to stay true to your brand and your brand’s mission and core beliefs. It is the only way your customers will trust you and continue to remain loyal to you. This often requires getting personal. From showcasing local artisans to seamlessly combining in-store and online experiences, you can personalize the experience for your customers. 

Redefine the Role of the Store

Consumers are buying more online, partly due to the pandemic and partly due to convenience. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of ecommerce, but we were already headed that way (read my articles from 2016-2019). We’ve now reached the point of integrated retail, where – from the customer’s point of view – there is no difference between shopping online, in the store, through social media platforms, or by clicking a button during a TV show. It’s all the same to them, so you have to meet them where they are, meet their needs, and never make it difficult for them to switch from one access point to another. 

So Where Do ASG and Chute Gerdeman Fit In?

Everything about your approach to retail is in need of analysis. You’ll be changing where you locate your stores and how you design them. You’ll need to understand and measure the impact of your ecommerce and social media sales and how that impacts where you’ll locate stores, which ones you’ll close, and which ones you’ll invest in. Most retailers will need to deliver 20-30% improvement in store productivity to compensate for channel shift. Working with ASG and Chute Gerdeman can help you make the most informed strategic decisions.  

Minding the Retail Gap

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We have been talking about redefining retail for a long time, but some retailers are falling behind. In fact, the retail gap between outperformers and the rest of retail is becoming wider, according to McKinsey, and “those that wish to keep up need to speed up.” The report offers great insight into the state of the post-pandemic retail industry, including the fact that pure grocery retailers were not ready and were outpaced by Walmart, Costco, and others. What did these top 25 retailers do that we need to understand and emulate?

Cater to Consumer Needs

Some retail categories struggled, especially those selling business apparel and cosmetics, as more people worked from home and barely bothered to get dressed, let alone put on a suit. Regardless of type, retailers that achieved the most success were those that had some infrastructure already in place before the pandemic hit and were capable of shifting to meet changes in consumer demand. 

Home improvement, as a category, was dominant. But some retailers seemed prescient in their pre-pandemic strategies and had infrastructure in place that let them quickly shift to meet changing consumer needs as the pandemic wreaked havoc. Walmart, for example, had already launched their curbside pickup service and had a sophisticated ecommerce platform in place. Costco had already established both ecommerce services and two-day deliver for food in many areas. McKinsey identified 25 forward-thinking companies that accounted for 90% of retail gains. What set these retailers apart? They were able to quickly shift more of their services online without having to build the infrastructure in order to do so. 

Deliver Value

The consumer perspective was forever shifted due to the pandemic, and the retailers that thrived were those that could offer consumers value. Value, of course, means different things to different consumers, but the three shifts I’ve observed are: cost, sustainability, and social. Consumers were laid off and losing income. Consequently, they wanted to know they were getting the biggest bang for each buck. At the same time, consumers began to evaluate purpose and meaning on a more existential level, and there was a seismic shift toward sustainability. And of course, in the midst of the pandemic, we had social justice issues playing out before our eyes that caused a measurable consumer shift in choosing retailers whose values aligned with their own

Leverage Technology to Meet Consumers Where They Are

One of the most interesting statistics to come from the McKinsey report had to do with grocery retailers. As an industry, grocery lost one percent of their revenues, which is obscene given the fact that grocers were one of the essential industries that never had to close. During the pandemic, many people began cooking at home more and even embraced cooking as a way to pass the time. So how did grocers not explode during the pandemic?

According to McKinsey:

The shift from in-store shopping to grocery delivery – combined with consumers’ increased price-consciousness, substantially higher store-operating costs due to COVID-19 protocols, and investments to support online fulfillment – created significant pressure on margins. Uncertain longer-term growth prospects, due to meal-delivery companies eating into grocers’ revenues and platform players using food as a source of consumer engagement rather than profit, have also likely played a role in the sector’s mediocre performance.

In other words, because grocers were slow to recognize the need to invest in technology before the pandemic, they were caught facing costly infrastructure investments during the pandemic – all while other retailers were able to use food as an experience.

How to Close the Gap

Whether you’re a grocer or any other retailer who does not want to be left behind in the new retail, closing the gap will require a number of changes in strategy, not the least of which is flexibility.

Be clear in your definition of what and who you are.

Are your operational, organizational, and communication strategies aligned with your mission? Do you know what your brand stands for? Do your consumers? 


The retail environment is not done changing. And if you’re not keenly aware of the power technology plays to keep you in the game, it’s time for a very rapid education – and a significant financial investment. Everywhere your brand lives – social media, ecommerce, brick and mortar – needs to be treated as one, integrated unit. Believe me, your consumers don’t see these as separate entities.

Consumer-Centric Focus

Walmart and Amazon will not stop investing in technology and infrastructure and they will continue their attempts to peel away consumers by focusing on convenience and price. But consumers are starving for personal touches; so, find where you can make consumers feel good and be there. We know consumers will pay more for experience. Deliver it.

Re-evaluate Everything

From location strategy to brand partnerships, from the retail space you need to the neighborhoods in which you locate your stores, now is the time to re-evaluate everything. If you are struggling, get tough with your business. Where do you cut? Where do you invest? What kind of mission do you have? How are you engaging with consumers and cultivating consumer loyalty? What can you change to better meet your consumers where they need you to be?

As McKinsey suggests, “Those that act boldly to stage a strong exit from this economic crisis can maintain their edge for a decade or more.”

What are you doing to be bold?

Sustainability – The Future of Retail

Sustainability – The Future of Retail 1440 428 ASG

The June 2021 PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey of more than 8,600 consumers in 22 territories revealed that 59% are more price-oriented and 50% are more eco-friendly. Sustainability can be exemplified in many ways, but retail sits at the juxtaposition between manufacturer and consumer and has a powerful seat at the table when it comes to driving the kind of change consumers expect, making it a perfect time to be a sustainability leader. 

As consumers seek products that cause minimal environmental harm and bring about positive social impact, and as awareness of supply chain impact grows, retailers must embrace sustainability. Given their unique position in the supply chain between upstream suppliers and downstream consumers, retailers are key to a circular economy in which products at the initial end-of-life stage are returned to the supply chain for continued use. By serving as a connection between suppliers and consumers, retail initiatives can help to reduce, reuse, and recycle. –Science Direct

The problem? Less than half of all retailers have sustainability goals, and a full 35% have no supply chain sustainability goals whatsoever according to an MIT study.

Consumers Are Paying Attention

Companies are now evaluated not only by the scope and quality of its products or services, but by how it gives back and what it’s doing to make the world a better place. If your retail or e-commerce business isn’t on board, you’re all but sure to be overshadowed by environmentally conscious competitors. –

Documentaries, like The Blue Planet have awakened consumer awareness about plastics, and climate change awareness has escalated the level of concern from consumers to the point where this is no turning back for retailers. Sustainability must be part of your business model going forward. From food to fashion, ecommerce to brick and mortar, consumers are watching you.

You Will Lose Customers If You Don’t Act

In a recent McKinsey survey, 67% of respondents say that sustainability impacts their buying decisions in fashion retail. And in a Kerry survey of more than 14,000 consumers, 49% took sustainability into consideration when buying food and drinks. 

Sustainability in retail is here to stay, but such a commitment must be more than just words on a page. A genuine commitment to the environment needs to be reflected in every part of your supply chain and the decisions you make regarding how and from where you are sourcing ingredients, who you’re hiring to make your clothing, and how you’re treating people and the environment along the way. Consumers want to see not just a goal to be carbon neutral by 2035 but the steps you’re taking to ensure you can achieve that.

Tips for Improving Sustainability in Retail

Improving sustainability requires a willingness to do business differently. You need to examine every business element, from where you’re locating your brick-and-mortar stores to green shipping options. Eradicate plastic. Reward consumers for ‘going green’ (pick-up vs. shipping; digital receipt vs. printed). Use raw materials whenever possible. Partner with recycling companies to eliminate food and product waste. And embrace the longstanding mantra to recycle, reuse, and repurpose as much as you can. 

5 Retailers Getting it Right

Consumers are looking for measurable changes. Some retailers are ahead of the game and others are starting to see the light. These retailers are delivering:

  • PriceChopper has partnered with Invafresh to prevent 20 tons of fresh food from being wasted each week.
  • Levi’s is a leader in reducing chemical and water use in products – and they’re sharing those techniques with others in the industry. (Forbes)
  • Rothy’s is a retailer designed with sustainability and equity in mind. They say business “starts by putting the planet and its people first.”
  • Tentree plants ten trees for every item purchased. “Tentree’s clothing is made from ethically sourced and sustainable materials including cork, coconut, and recycled polyester and produced in ethical factories.”  (Forbes)

True sustainability practices are not just about sourced materials but rather a dedication to an initiative that goes beyond business objectives. There’s no time to delay in establishing your sustainability objectives and taking action to achieve them.

So, How Do We Redefine Retail for the Consumer?

The obvious answer is that consumers are the ones redefining retail, and we just need to listen. But I think it begins by redefining retail priorities. And this is where the combined power of ASG + Chute really shines. Not only do you need to understand how consumers are shopping more in their own neighborhoods, but you need to understand that the store you design and the holistic experience you deliver can’t be driven off the flagship store you build in NYC. You need flexible store designs that can be modified to meet the local need – sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, and always with a local feel. And you can’t invest as much in the up-front design process. Instead, you must embrace an iterative process where you get it out there, learn, and refine.

Retail Location Strategy & Consumer Connection

Retail Location Strategy & Consumer Connection 1440 428 ASG

I have talked about the importance of retailers connecting with their customers – meeting them where they are, understanding how they’ve changed, and refining what is offered to better serve them. But this idea of connection goes further. Retailers are finding new ways to engage authentically with their customers, and there is an opportunity for retailers to provide space, purpose, and reason for people to reconnect with each other. But even as retailers seek to reengage with consumers, many people are finding that – for at least a couple of reasons – reconnecting isn’t as easy as they thought it would be.

They Don’t Remember How

As areas of the world come out of the most stringent lockdowns of the pandemic, many people have been saying the same thing: they don’t remember how to relate to other people. It’s become an almost-painful joke that underscores the extreme isolation of the last year. People are struggling with figuring out how to reconnect and be with others. 

Many are Experiencing Profound Loneliness

In and among all the parents struggling to work from home while supporting their children doing online school while never having a moment of quiet, there have been even more people struggling to simply survive the loneliness of the pandemic. Self-isolating and social distancing as a family is much different than self-isolating and social distancing for someone who lives alone. 

Retail Provides Opportunities – and Excuses – to Connect Again

I think this is one of the most understated purposes of brick-and-mortar retail. Beyond ordering something online, which is a one-to-one experience rather than an immersive experience, retail becomes part of the social fabric. I believe that this affords many opportunities for retail to explore different dimensions to socialization.  Whether it’s connecting with a friend in a newly re-opened café, shopping with friends for wardrobe updates, or enjoying a mani-pedi session with a family member that you haven’t seen in six months, retail of all kinds opens doors to connecting people. And as retailers consider the consumer desire to connect, it will impact the way they locate and design their stores.

As we observed in a recent Chute Gerdeman article:

People are actively seeking out communities to find support and belonging. Consumers are finding strength in numbers, and it’s clear that it’s impacting retail. No matter how big or small, brands are re-assessing their efforts to bring a sense of community into their offering. For some it’s sparked an entirely new format strategy, while others have created outlets that bring communities together.

Retail Location Strategies that Bring Communities Together

Retailers should meet and connect with consumers where they want to be. These days, it’s more than just at a mall. A great example of the future of retail location strategy is the opening of Bloomie’s in Fairfax, Virginia, this summer. The store will be roughly 10% the size of a traditional Bloomingdale’s department store. The store will “serve as a hub for experiences, with a focus on fashion, and feature Colada Shop, a restaurant serving coffee, Caribbean-inspired small bites and cocktails into the evening.”

Rather than locating in a shopping mall, Bloomie’s will be located in the Mosaic District shopping center – a mixed-use development with retailers, apartments, offices, town homes, a grocery store, and a movie theater. 

This approach by Macy’s (owner of Bloomingdale’s and Bloomie’s) is precisely where retail location strategy and consumer-centric retail converge: in the neighborhood, in a more focused space, with the goal of giving people a place not just to shop but to gather, socialize, and connect.

The Convenience Store Playbook

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Convenience stores (C-stores) have always held space in retail, but today’s convenience store is almost nothing like its predecessors. A place that was once known for questionable hot dogs, 32-ounce cups of soda, and burned coffee is now a leader in delivering the experiences sought after by today’s consumers. 

How C-Stores Met Consumer Need During the Pandemic

Throughout the pandemic, the convenience store became a source of connection. C-stores are local; the people who work in them are often the familiar faces of neighbors. C-stores became even more important during the pandemic because of several things:

  1. They are neighborhood stores. Conveniently located, C-stores kept people from having to wander too far from home or step foot inside large, crowded supermarkets. 
  2. They carry all the basics, from hot dogs, soda, and coffee to toilet paper and other essentials.
  3. C-store chains operate with a relatively low overhead, and because they are located within neighborhoods, with their pulse on local needs, they’ve been able to quickly respond to the changing demands of their local consumers.

C-Store Success Stores

C-stores are everywhere, in every neighborhood. The design, story, and experience of the new C-store is elevating the industry and bringing dignity back to a commodity. It’s no longer just a place to shop because it’s convenient – it’s a place that consumers are choosing to go.

C-Store Success Stores

7-Eleven is transforming their locations from simple convenience stores to neighborhood experiences. Locations around the country are offering restaurant experiences with Raise the Roost® Chicken and Biscuits or Parlor Pizza restaurants. The newest location in Manassas, Virginia has both. In addition, certain 7-Eleven locations feature customized drinks, wine cellars, and a store brand called Sips + Snacks.

7-Eleven Executive Vice President and COO Chris Tanco said in a recent press release, “Today’s opportunity is in the QSR space, and we are responding by aggressively rolling out our restaurants across the country – both in Evolution Stores and beyond. Our plan is to open nearly 150 restaurants in 2021.”

7-Eleven is betting on the C-store evolution in a serious way, having just completed the purchase of 3,800 Speedway stores. 


MAPCO Express is one of the largest C-store chains in the United States, headquartered in Franklin, Tennessee. They turned to Chute Gerdeman and worked with them for over a year to develop a refreshing new store design that communicated not only convenience and freshness but also a modernized C-store experience. What does that look like? Free Wi-Fi, fresh food and grocery items, smoothies, bean-to-cup coffee, and a beer cave were all part of the new store design. Have a look.

Choice Market

“We’re entering an era where C-stores are a choice not just a convenient option,” explains Chute Gerdeman. Choice Market, with the help of Chute Gerdeman, designed the C-store of the future, combining grocery and restaurant services in a C-store format. At Choice Market, you can grab groceries, order meals made to order from locally sourced foods, and relax.

C-Stores: Right Place, Right Time

Being close to home gave convenience stores a leg up during the pandemic, but to remain relevant, as vaccine rates increase and more people step out of their homes, this focus on delivering customers an experience and providing higher-quality merchandise in a clean, safe, and consumer-oriented environment is what will keep them returning.

For the future of C-stores, shopping will be about accessibility, product offer, and personalization. The door is open for disruption, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t satisfy demands. Forward-thinking strategies will help retailers gain an edge against competition and beyond traditional norms of convenience. – Chute Gerdeman

Around the world, C-store leaders are making pivotal changes to increase their relevancy, from loyalty programs to free coffee for healthcare workers.

Retail, One Year Later

Retail, One Year Later 1440 428 ASG

March 13; a Friday the 13th, ironically enough: That’s the day most people point to in 2020 as the moment when everything changed. Up until that day, it was business as usual, with just a few conversations surfacing from the background about a new SARS virus. And then suddenly, the pandemic enveloped us. Schools closed. Retailers put up signs indicating that they were temporarily closed. No one knew then that we would endure 12 full months of turmoil before the light at the end of the tunnel stopped looking like a freight train headed straight for us.

The Biggest Disruption to Retail

We’re always talking about innovation and technology disrupting the status quo – Uber, Netflix, and others are typified as brands that have changed the face of their industries. But the pandemic has been the biggest disruptor to retail ever. The short-term goal to survive this disruption was shoring up liquidity. Then came the realization that there was no quick fix in sight – which forced most retailers to take actions that would have otherwise taken years to implement – curbside pickup, online ordering, app development, and the employing of AR. These measures were the hardest to navigate for those brick-and-mortar retailers that hadn’t at least started building the framework for technology’s role in retail – and many of them did not survive. For a while, there was pure panic – and a lot of number crunching. And we had no one to help us. 

Lack of Representation for Retail

In Episode Four of CBUS Retail’s COVID Chronicles, we reflected on those first few days. We worked with Alvarez & Marsal and put out an invite for retail leaders to jump on a call; overnight we had 100 C-suite retail executives and even some landlords on the phone. It was then that we realized how significant of an event the pandemic really was, and what we heard on that call was that no one could pay rent and still have the cashflow they needed to try to survive. Without a strong, unified, central voice on Capitol Hill to lobby for aid, we decided to use that call to brainstorm–not just for individual retailers but for the retail ecosystem as a whole–what was essential to survive, including relief to landlords. Congress still does not place the importance it should on retail, given the impact it has on the overall US economy.

Take A Breath, but Don’t Stop

A year later, we’ve finally reached a point where we can take a breath. Vaccine rollout is going strong. More than 90 million Americans have received stimulus payments. And those payments were expanded to include all dependents, not just those under age 17. The new administration is pushing for vaccines to be available to all adults by May, and they’ve started testing vaccine safety on teens. By mid-summer, there is an expectation – maybe not for a return to “normal” – but at least for a return to in-person events and experiences.

Where Does Specialty Retail Fit in This Future?

Excitingly enough, the answer is everywhere. Not just physically, although we’ll be talking more about the need to reevaluate the future of retail location strategy. But specialty retail fits everywhere consumers are – in malls, in neighborhoods, in popups at events, in their living rooms, on their phones – everywhere. People have money, they feel safer, and they’re ready to shop. They’re tired of staring at screens; they’re tired of transactional interactions. They want to touch, feel, and experience the inside of a store again.

What we saw during the worst days of the pandemic was that retailers are tough. When things were at their worst, they figured it out. They adapted, pivoted, and quickly implemented the changes that would let them continue to take care of their customers and maintain some source of revenue. And they did it without long-term studies and budget meetings and RFPs. They just took action.

If we take anything from this pandemic, hopefully it’s the knowledge that in a time of crisis, the retail industry can act swiftly, think long-term, and take care of more than just their own bottom line. This is, to us, the greatest source of hope for the future of retail.

Redefining Retail

Redefining Retail 1440 428 ASG

I’ve been spending a lot of time these days thinking about the future of retail. And what I think about most is how much opportunity there is. How much opportunity?  Well, I’m so confident in retail and what retail means to consumers, that even in the midst of a pandemic, we have acquired and merged with one of the most respected retail design organizations.

Even as we grieve the unimaginable losses this country has endured over the last year – and I do grieve – as a business leader, I must recognize that the pandemic has also allowed us to see our world, our roles in it, and the future with new perspective. We have all been changed. And that has a significant impact on redefining retail. 

Covid-19 Forced a Reckoning

The shift in the world has been palpable. People suddenly realized that they could work from home and, despite a few Zoom mishaps, business would go on. People are spending more time with their families, more time on creative pursuits, and more time envisioning a future that embraces humanism and sustainability – and their loyalty will be to those brands that are aligned with this vision of the future. They crave something new – something different – something human. The idea that you wouldn’t know it wasn’t local is the driving force. They care if your products are sustainably and ethically sourced, if your people are paid a living wage, and if you contribute positively to their neighborhoods, towns, and regions. They want a holistic experience in which they can access those brands without regard for where or how the interaction takes place. 

Online Only Still Doesn’t Work

Before we give in to the few short-sighted analysts who point to a perfect future of online-only retail, let me just say right now – online only doesn’t work. It has not worked in the past, and it is especially clear that it won’t work in the future. Amazon and our existing infrastructure offer the best examples of pinch points in an already flawed system which causes deep strains on everything. Yet, shopping malls are still not back to normal and some question whether they ever will be. If anything, consumers are more ready than ever to get back inside the shops. But the look, feel, and delivery will all be different. And if you were on the fence about needing to provide a seamless experience to your consumers, and if you’re still in business, then you can no longer wait.

Huge Opportunity for New Brands

According to the current administration, by this summer, every adult who wants to be vaccinated will have the ability to do so. This means that we should already be knee-deep in planning for the summer, for we are going to see herd immunity, the economy, and that deep pandemic restlessness all converge on retail. There’s a lot up for grabs for new brands that can come into the existing retail landscape with a new approach – one that is wholly focused on consumers and their changing needs. And consumers have changed.

How to Reach Tomorrow’s Consumer

We’ve been talking for a long time about consumer-centric retail strategy. But what does the customer experience mean to the consumer? Technology? Good feelings? Consumers are getting screen fatigue and they’re lonely. They’re ready to shop. But their priorities have changed. They’ve discovered new needs and wants. They’ve realized what they can live without. Consumers know they can place an order from their living room at 3 a.m. and pick it up curbside at 10 a.m. But they still miss the pure tactile pleasure of walking the aisles, trying on clothing, and being cared for. At the same time, they are still hesitant about how safe it is to do any of this.

So, How Do We Redefine Retail for the Consumer?

The obvious answer is that consumers are the ones redefining retail, and we just need to listen. But I think it begins by redefining retail priorities. And this is where the combined power of ASG + Chute really shines. Not only do you need to understand how consumers are shopping more in their own neighborhoods, but you need to understand that the store you design and the holistic experience you deliver can’t be driven off the flagship store you build in NYC. You need flexible store designs that can be modified to meet the local need – sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller, and always with a local feel. And you can’t invest as much in the up-front design process. Instead, you must embrace an iterative process where you get it out there, learn, and refine.

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